It’s been a week and a half since the premiere of the Sarasota Film Festival darling: Missed Connections and we are all still buzzing about it. The Sarasota Film Festival has been blooming for a number of years, and it is no accident that this particular film had its debut at the Sarasota Film Festival that, according to one online review, is: “Considered by many as the acme of regional film festivals. Sarasota's meteoric rise among regional film festivals has allowed it to host international luminaries and grow exponentially.”
When my dear long-time friend, Peggy, called from Seattle two weeks ago to tell me her daughter Marnie’s screenplay was premiering at the Sarasota Film Festival - and could I go - I screamed. There were a couple of reasons for my outcry:
a) I have known Marnie for over 20 years, and she has always been incredibly creative and astounding.
b) We drop whatever we are doing for a friend.
c) And most importantly, I love sharing and celebrating in another’s journey to joy and success.
A researcher of humanity at heart, I attended all/both screenings of Missed Connections. My intention for my “research” was to meet the characters on and off screen, and to gather data to assess emotionality and audience responses.
The “Rom-com” story is based on a real time online site called: Missed Connections, where UK site developer Eliot Sykes offers this: “…think of it as anyone you've ever met or just exchanged glances with and want to get in touch with but you don't have their contact details.” Rather than tell you all the details of what will be sure to gain the same international “meteoric rise” in a major distribution of this sweet film, I will instead share the rationale for - and findings from - my informal research.
Marnie has been putting on plays and skits since I first met her at age 8. Whether at her home or mine, Marnie scripted complex dramas and comedies alike, where she unilaterally served as screenwriter, director and actor. To discover that her story and screenplay (that I had learned about last year) was directed by Martin Snyder and now debuting at our film festival, simultaneously evoked the feeling of mother-like pride and research-gatherer instinct.
7 findings I gathered from my informal research:
- The torn ticket stub (above image) was a result of throngs of people gently shoving past the harried volunteers to get into the theater to secure seats = good sign.
- I met Marty and Mickey before the film started: they were both charming and engaging = wonderful.
- After a few moments, Marty Snyder (director), Mickey Sumner (lead), and Paul McCarthy (cinematographer) appeared and spoke to us = great sign.
- The theater was SRO = fabulous sign.
- The storyline and character development: audience (myself and my family members included) emoted in unison with laughter, smiles, nods, a few tears, roaring (think: bursting) applause, and at film’s end: a standing O = exceptional.
- The Q&A afterwards brought more poignancy to an already poignant and touching story and film: the “realness” of the cast and crew made the audience members gush even more = huge wow factor.
- The energy in the theater could be summed up in one word: “triumph” = beautiful.
All researchers must disclose when their results are tainted in any way, and this one is no exception. There were so many moments in the film where I was completely captivated with the story and characters that I forgot all about my research, or that Marnie and Marty had created this lovely screenplay. That my surrogate maternal pride was evident at times – at both showings – would clearly skew the authenticity of my research, although subjectivity aside, this film absolutely shines all on its own without even knowing the players. (My 19- and 21-year-old sons really enjoyed it!)
Yet it is precisely that I DO know the players that make it that much more meaningful; it is not just the story or film that touched all of our hearts. It is the whole: a theater of people – on and off the screen: actors/directors/writers/cinematographer/audience - a very mindful and present group who consistently exuded positive energy virtually and real-time that is the true measure.
As a researcher of human psychology, it doesn’t get any better than this. You can see the results of my friend and her colleagues in the image below: Missed Connections never missed; instead, we joined in celebration as the film connected us on multiple levels of collective humanity = 5 stars.